Too Long; Didn't Read
The indiscriminate admission of every candidate became at last so notorious, even beyond the pale of the Society, that some of the members began to perceive the inconveniences to which it led. This feeling, together with a conviction that other improvements were necessary to re-establish the Society in public opinion, induced several of the most active members to wish for some reform in its laws and proceedings; and a Committee was appointed to consider the subject. It was perfectly understood, that the object of this Committee was to inquire,—First, as to the means and propriety of limiting the numbers of this Society; and then, as to other changes which they might think beneficial. The names of the gentlemen composing this Committee were:—
Dr. Wollaston, Mr. Herschel,
Dr. Young, Mr. Babbage,
Mr. Davies Gilbert, Captain Beaufort,
Mr. South, Captain Kater.
The importance of the various improvements suggested was different in the eyes of different members. The idea of rendering the Society so select as to make it an object of ambition to men of science to be elected into it, was by no means new, as the following extract from the Minutes of the Council will prove:—
"MINUTES OF COUNCIL. August 27, 1674 Present,
Sir W. Petty, Vice-President,
Sir John Lowther,
Sir John Cutler,
Sir Christopher Wren,
Sir Paul Neile.
"It was considered by this Council, that to make the Society prosper, good experiments must be in the first place provided to make the weekly meetings considerable, and that the expenses for making these experiments must be secured by legal subscriptions for paying the contributors; which done, the Council might then with confidence proceed to the EJECTION OF USELESS FELLOWS."